Blog: Beth WrightChina leads US apparel import declines in August

Beth Wright | 12 October 2020

US apparel imports continued to climb in August as retail sales bounced back from the pandemic and merchants replenished inventories and stocked up early for the holiday season.

The pandemic could not have come at a worse time for Cambodia's garment sector, since it coincides with the partial withdrawal of the country's duty-free access to the European Union (EU) market.

It's easy to blame the crisis or recession for some of the problems facing the garment export industry. But what if the issues are more deep-rooted? The real challenge is to separate out the noise and draw up practical strategies based on accurate information. Using Bangladesh and India as examples, here are some solutions to help realise their potential.

Elsewhere, Indonesia's parliament has passed into law a controversial bill to reform the country's labour market and regulations – prompting concern from apparel brands, labour rights groups and unions.

China has been earmarked by the US as a global hotspot for goods made using forced labour.

A "severe and sudden" appreciation of the Haitian currency is causing concern for US apparel brands, retailers and importers, who say the resulting uncertainty makes Haiti uncompetitive and undermines its business and investment environment.

While in the United States, plans by the US Trade Representative to launch a Section 301 investigation on Vietnam – a move that could pave the way for imposition of new punitive duties on US imports from the country – have been met with dismay

The European Apparel and Textile Confederation (Euratex) and the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) have also bemoaned the "small scope" of a new tariff agreement between the EU and US, particularly the fact it does not include textiles and apparel.

And proposed amendments to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic regulations could potentially disrupt trade and place an undue burden on apparel and textile importers.

Meanwhile, to mark this year's World Decent Work Day, Jennifer Schappert, executive director of ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation), explains why ensuring all parties are at the negotiating table, responsible purchasing practices, and finding fast and effective solutions to disputes are critical steps to helping the global garment industry build back better for workers.

In retail, US specialty apparel retailer Gap Inc has announced the permanent appointment of Nancy Green to lead Old Navy as president and CEO after serving as interim head of the brand since March.

Retailer Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, which also owns the Peacocks, Austin Reed and Jaeger brands, has filed a notice to appoint administrators in a move that potentially puts 24,000 jobs at risk.

Mango has published a list of its Tier 1 production factories that have produced goods for the Spanish fashion retailer in the current year.

The first retail model of the garment-to-garment recycling system pioneered by the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) is to make its debut in an H&M store in Sweden.

And the UK Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) plans to follow up on its 2018 inquiry into the state of the British fashion industry due to what it says are continued concerns around the environmental impact of the sector and working conditions in UK garment factories.

The alumni of 2020 are headed into an exciting time in the fashion industry. Though the world is facing unprecedented times, it is still spinning and consumers are still buying, meaning many skills and career opportunities are in high demand.

In other news, J.Jill Inc has named Claire Spofford, as its new CEO, and Zalando has again raised its full-year outlook after seeing strong and profitable growth in the third quarter.

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